Depth Charting the 2013 Ohio State Buckeyes

By Michael Citro on August 19, 2013 at 11:30a
YOUNG PUPS READY TO BITEEleven Warriors 2013 Ohio State Football Preview

Few teams in college football have the expectations entering the 2013 season that Ohio State has. Those who have questioned whether or not the Buckeyes can live up to those expectations often site a lack of depth at key positions as the reason why.

A lack of depth is typically only a problem if a team is hit with injuries, but it’s a legitimate concern for Ohio State. Football is a violent sport and a second teamer is only one play away from becoming a starter. Do the Buckeyes have enough depth to pull off a title run? Well, that all depends upon what position you’re talking about.

Ohio State’s depth is sufficient at running back, wide receiver, safety and tight end, and the Buckeyes have one of the nation’s most experienced and smooth backup quarterbacks. There are also a lot of bodies on the defensive line, albeit inexperienced bodies.

Depth is a real issue at linebacker, offensive line and cornerback.

We covered the special teams last week. Let’s take a look at Ohio State’s depth chart on offense and defense.


Quarterback: Duh. Unless you've been living under a rock (and maybe even then), you know that junior Braxton Miller is the man and Kenny Guiton (and his smooth, smooth jazz) is the capable veteran backup. All Miller did during his sophomore year was set school records for total yards (3,310) and rushing yards by a quarterback (1,271). His rushing total was the second most by a quarterback in conference history. Miller completed 58.3% of his passes (148/254) for 2,039 yards and 15 touchdowns, with just six interceptions. He averaged 5.6 yards per carry and scored 13 rushing touchdowns. He was good enough to be named the conference MVP by the Chicago Tribune.

Guiton was an outstanding backup, generally leading his team to scores whenever spelling an injured Miller, and leading the Buckeyes to a dramatic come-from-behind win over Purdue. Guiton completed 13 of his 23 passes (56.5%) for 139 yards and two touchdowns, with one interception. He ran for 32 more yards on nine carries. But what really made Guiton valuable was his calm leadership, coming in cold off the bench in very chaotic circumstances. He was a leader, which is exactly what you want your quarterback to be.

Beyond Kenny G is redshirt freshman Cardale Jones. Freshman J.T. Barrett is highly touted but he’s coming off an injury and may redshirt this season. Other than that, it’s preferred walk-on freshmen Luke Morgan and Reid Worstell.

Running Back: The depth chart at tailback is going to change when Carlos Hyde’s suspension ends, but Hyde will be the No. 1 guy when he returns. Despite missing two games with injury last year, Hyde ran for 970 yards, narrowly missing becoming Urban Meyer’s first 1,000-yard running back.

In his absence, look for Rod Smith and Jordan Hall to split time with the first team (after Smith's own 1-game suspension). Smith is a bruising runner that has displayed only two holes in his game — a lack of ball security, at times, and he often displays a too-high pad level when carrying the rock. Hall ran for 218 yards and a touchdown in seven games last year, while Smith picked up 215 yards and two scores in nine games. Hall will probably play some tailback as well as the hybrid position until Hyde returns.

Sophomore Bri’onte Dunn and redshirt freshman Warren Ball will push for playing time. Talented true freshmen Ezekiel Elliott and Dontre Wilson are probably too talented to keep off the field. Wilson is turning heads in camp and will line up somewhere, possibly in Hall’s hybrid slot early in the year. If walk-on sophomore Levi Ratliff sees the field in a competitive game, it’s probably not a good sign.

Big play man, Devin Smith.Starting receiver Devin Smith returns to score more TDs.

Wide Receiver: Senior Philly Brown and junior Devin Smith are returning starters and by all accounts in camp they’ve improved. Brown caught a career high 60 passes a year ago for 669 yards but scored only three touchdowns. One was against Michigan though, so it counts as five. Or something. Smith had 30 receptions for 618 yards and six scores and was the team’s deep threat. Senior Chris Fields was named a starting slot receiver by Urban Meyer after the Spring Game. Fields made only four catches for 55 yards and a touchdown, appearing in eight games in 2012. His touchdown was kind of a big one though — it came in the dying seconds against Purdue and it combined with Jeff Heuerman’s two-point conversion to force overtime and preserve the undefeated season.

Junior Evan Spencer has been singled out this camp for his improvement by Meyer and OSU Receivers Coach Zach Smith. Spencer caught 12 passes for 136 yards last season, without a touchdown. Sophomore Michael Thomas has not yet lived up to his Spring Game 2012 performance. Thomas played in 11 games last year, but was held to three receptions for 22 yards.

Several youngsters will push the returning players, including junior college transfer Corey Smith and freshman Jalin Marshall. Preferred walk-on freshman Joe Ramstetter eschewed a baseball scholarship to play for Ohio State and was the first of the outstanding 2013 recruiting class to earn the removal of his black stripe. Redshirt freshman Frank Epitropoulos is another option and someone I really want to succeed so I can give him the nickname “The Galloping Greek.”

Tight End: Ohio State has two outstanding tight ends returning this season in sophomore Nick Vannett and junior Jeff Heuerman, and both will play a lot. Vannett and Heuerman finished 2012 with only nine and eight receptions, respectively, but every catch seemed to be an important one. Vannett gained 123 yards but did not score, while Heuerman tallied 94 yards, a touchdown, and a very important two-point conversion against the Boilermakers. Both figure to improve their stat lines in 2013 as the offense uses more of Tom Herman’s playbook.

Freshman Marcus Baugh will start the season on suspension, but he’s an athletic tight end who will push for snaps in 2013. Defensive lineman J.T. Moore has moved to tight end to provide added depth. Junior walk-on Charles Kinzig rounds out the tight end position.

Offensive Line: The only mystery entering camp was whether Taylor Decker could hold off Chase Farris and seize the starting right tackle position. That has happened, and the sophomore joins seniors Jack Mewhort (LT), Andrew Norwell (LG), Corey Linsley (C), and Marcus Hall (RG) on the first team. The Buckeye starting line should be one of the best in the country, but it would benefit future teams if Meyer can get some experience for his backups.

Speaking of the backups, Ohio State is just starting to recover from the Jim Bollman era. Farris is a second teamer along with redshirt freshman Kyle Dodson, sophomore Jacoby Boren, freshman Pat Elflein, and junior Darryl Baldwin. Sophomore Tommy Brown is also in the mix for the two-deep. Beyond that, it’s still a bit thin.


Defensive Line: The D-line lacks experience, but not talent. Junior Michael Bennett has had some injury woes in the past, but he’s the most experienced and polished player on the defensive line. Sophomores Adolphus Washington and Noah Spence will join Bennett on the starting unit, and junior Joel Hale appears to have grabbed a starting spot as well, although sophomore Tommy Schutt is pushing him hard. Freshman Joey Bosa looks to have snared a spot in the dime package and a second team D-line position. Others vying for the second team are junior Steve Miller, sophomore Chris Carter, and freshmen Tyquan Lewis and Tracy Sprinkle.

Linebacker: Junior Ryan Shazier is a starter. In fact, he’ll likely be one of the best linebackers in the country this season. Shazier led Ohio State in tackles (115) and tackles for loss (17). He had five sacks, an interception for a touchdown against Penn State, 11 pass breakups, three forced fumbles and three quarterback hurries. He was a machine. Junior Curtis Grant has finally taken the starting Mike linebacker role and sophomore Josh Perry will be the third guy when Ohio State goes with a 4-3. Grant played in eight games and made eight tackles and Perry made five tackles in 10 games.

Freshman Mike Mitchell and sophomore Cam Williams appear to have locked down second-team spots, while freshman Trey Johnson and sophomore Craig Fada are also in the mix for the second unit. This is an untested position group, and probably the most worrisome entering the 2013 season. However, the Buckeyes are expected to play more 4-2-5, which would help cover the weakness. That won’t be possible against power running teams, but Luke Fickell has a few games to get ready for that.

Star: In the 4-2-5, redshirt freshman Tyvis Powell has laid claim to the star position. Senior Pitt Brown is battling freshman Vonn Bell to be Powell’s backup. Brown had 17 tackles a season ago in a reserve role.

Cornerback: While junior Bradley Roby is a sure-fire first team corner, but he’ll start the season on suspension. Roby is a preseason All-American and perhaps the best defensive back in the nation. His presence often cuts the field in half for opposing quarterbacks. When the other team does throw (or run) his way, bad things can happen to them. Roby was third in tackles (63) for Ohio State in 2012. He made two TFLs, picked off two passes and broke up 17 others, recovered a fumble and blocked a kick. Junior Doran Grant will be the other starter. Grant made 19 tackles in a reserve role last year, with one interception, a pass breakup, a sack and a fumble recovery.

Freshman Gareon Conley and sophomore Armani Reeves are the favorites to back up Roby and Grant.

Safety: Seniors C.J. Barnett and Christian Bryant start in Ohio State’s most experienced defensive unit. Bryant (70) and Barnett (56) were second and fourth, respectively, in tackles for the Buckeyes a year ago. The duo combined for three interceptions and 18 pass breakups. Sophomore Devan Bogard and freshman Chris Worley are manning the second team.


Comments Show All Comments

BuckeyeNationProblems's picture

What? I thought Bauserman was taking the snaps this year?!?! FML who is BRAXTON MILLER?


jmoore3309's picture

"If walk-on sophomore Levi Ratliff sees the field in a competitive game, it’s probably not a good sign."
Unless of course it is because we hung 50 on TTUN. 

Go Bucks!

Michael Citro's picture

Then that wouldn't be a competitive game.

Boxley's picture

But, it is the type of competitive game I always want to see against TTUN.

"...the man who really counts in the world is the doer, not the mere critic-the man who actually does the work, even if roughly and imperfectly, not the man who only talks or writes about how it ought to be done." President T. Roosevelt

unknownmusketeer's picture

I am thinking this means relatively competitive. If 100 points in the normal margin of victory, 50 is relatively competitive.

ChazBuckeye's picture

However, the Buckeyes are expected to play more 4-2-5, which would help cover the weakness. That won’t be possible against power running teams, but Luke Fickell has a few games to get ready for that.

This is what worries me against Wiscy and the possible 14th game if it's against who I think it will be.  Many don't realize how well that crimson colored team likes to run down hill.  To be quite honest, I think it could be OSU's demise if they can't get a strong 4-3 unit to work cohesively against a power running team.

Some people think we’re the hunted.I don’t feel that way at all.We’re the hunter.Everybody wants an angry football team.Everybody wants a team on edge and a hungry team.If you’re a hunter,that usually equates to being hungry.

osu07asu10's picture

Many don't realize how well that crimson colored team likes to run down hill.

I'm pretty sure most of college football knows that about  Bama.  However, stopping a power running game isn't a problem for the buckeyes. Look at the 2012 numbers, we were the 14th best team in nation for rushing defense.
The problem with our linebackers was largely pass coverage, and defending spread offenses. That is what necessitates a switch from the 4-3 base to a 4-2-5 Nickel set. IF Alabama makes the BCS championship game against the buckeyes, then I would expect to see a larger dose of the 4-3 base and would feel very confident in our front 7's ability to stop the run.

CJDPHoS Board of Directors // Best friends with Homey Hache

The 0 is silent.

CC's picture

I would have bet that Burrows and Apple would have been in the 2 deep considering they were here in the spring.  Good on Gareon.

GR8TBUCKS's picture

That is apparently a good steal from Michigag.


Mirror Lake Jump's picture

Love that you included the walk-ons in this article.

yrro's picture

Anyone else think Roby *really* needs to work on his run support after watching that video? He's a beast against the pass, no doubt, but he looks absolutely tiny every time he has to go against a blocker.

jaxbuckeye's picture

You do know he's a cornerback, right?  It's going to happen. He also sacrificed his body to allow others to make the tackle.  Exactly what you teach.   I can live with that.

gumtape's picture

Malcolm Jenkins man he was an absolute animal in run support. Nobody will ever match him from the corner position.

High and tight boo boo

Buckeye5000's picture

I can think of one who was better than Malcolm. How about Antoine Winfield. He lead the team in tackles as a Jr. with 100. He was the best Tackling Corner I have ever seen...on any college football team.
He was incredible in run support.

2014 Undisputed National Champions!

BtownBuckeye's picture

Roby is one of the best tackling corners in the nation

Goalscorer9's picture

Does the lack of mention of james clark mean he's out of the WR rotation at this point?

If one of the starting safeties goes down would we really go with Bogard/Worley or would Pitt Brown or Vonn Bell slide back?  Is Darron Lee looking like a redshirt candidate?

Has Jamal Marcus switched to D-line or is he still getting reps with the linebackers?

Is Billy Price vying for a spot on the second team O line, or was that more of a move for the future?

Will Michael Hill likely redshit?

Are Apple and Burrows the number 5 & 6 corners right now?  Or is Najee Murray still somewhere in the rotation?  I know there seems to be some uncertainty with his situation right now.

Michael Citro's picture

Clark's not out of the rotation completely. I just don't see him in the 2-deep at this point and with 100+ players, a name here and there will get chopped for brevity's sake. I tried to focus on the 2-deep.

Price's move was announced after this article had been written and I'm not sure he's challenging for the second team just yet. Marcus hasn't been talked about much at all this preseason. Not sure exactly where he fits in at the moment.

Urban doesn't like to redshirt so it's anyone's guess on Hill or Lee (also, remember: Piranhas).

Not sure what Najee's status is or if the violation of team rules thing has been completely played out.

Goalscorer9's picture

Thanks for the answers Michael! :)

jaxbuckeye's picture

Great questions Goal.  No offense, but I thought there were quite a few players missing too.

GR8TBUCKS's picture

If Michael Hill red shits, call a doctor. Immediately.


GoldenBuckeye's picture

Didn't Devin Smith drop that pass in the picture above?  He would have walked into the endzone.

IBleedSandG's picture

Yep, he sure did.


Michael Citro's picture

It's a still photo, so he'll always be in a perpetual state of both hauling in and dropping the pass. The term for it Schrödinger's Catch.

Buckeye5000's picture

Schrodinger's Catch.....Good one Sheldon. I didn't think you had a scene of humor Sheldon :)

2014 Undisputed National Champions!

Buckeye_in_SEC_country's picture

Conley is expected be a back-up before Apple or Burrows?  I didn't see that coming.  It's a great thing to have so many talented DB's, but I figured with Apple and Burrows enrolling early that they would most likely be 2nd team guys.

BKLYN_Buckeye's picture

Armani Reeves will start in place of Roby against Buffalo, per twitter.

otrain2416's picture

Just out of curiosity who tweeted that?

We were born to love Ohio State and hate that team up north.

Michael Citro's picture

Just about everyone at the media availability today.

otrain2416's picture

Surprised you didn't mention Jamal Marcus for a second team DE. Spence was raving about his speed, how well he was playing, and he was going to contribute this year. Other than that great write up!

We were born to love Ohio State and hate that team up north.

d1145fresh's picture

Could not be happier that Tyvis Powell is getting a nod to the starting lineup. If you haven't taken the time yet, google him and his story with Ohio State along with his message to Buckeye fans from last year. The kid is someone who we should all be proud of as a Buckeye.

weimerad's picture

Glad to hear that Grant is the starter at the MIKE position, but you didn't mention Joe Burger at all.  I thought he was getting reps with the 1st and 2nd strings?

Michael Citro's picture

Due to injuries at LB during this camp, I'm sure all available warm bodies ran with the 1s and 2s at some point. I don't see him on the 1st or 2nd unit right now if everyone is good to go, but if he steps up and takes a spot, good for him.


Edit: Doug Lemerises had this in his notes column today:

Joe Burger, a walkon, has worked with Shazier on the first team in Grant's absence. Part of the reason why is that Fickell said several freshmen have hit “the wall” in recent practices, and linebackers Mike Mitchell and Trey Johnson have been among them. He said Johnson has actually missed practice with physical issues of his own.

gumtape's picture

Do we know which one between grant and perry will be on the field when we play nickel?

High and tight boo boo

Michael Citro's picture

Grant. Also, right now Pittsburgh Brown has a slight edge in the dime, over Devan Bogard and Cam Burrows. This came out on Twitter today and Kyle confirms that in this story.


Great story. It is definitely apparent that the "holes" Meyer said we had last year have been closed significantly. We're still not perfect but this story eloquently shows how much stronger we are without even playing a game. I would imagine by 2014 and 2015, even with attrition, early departures and graduations those "holes" will be near nonexistent from all the great recruiting classes we're getting.

"Sherman ran an option play right through the south" - Greatest Civil War analogy EVER.

Wanderer59's picture

Love hearing about some of the lesser known players and the Walk on's. Any other Walk on's that might see any playing time?

John W. McDaniel

gwin321's picture

Has anyone heard anything about Trey Johnson? In this article I seen that he has a chance for second string. Thats all of ever heard about him since he signed.

Buckeye5000's picture

Excellent article Michael, Thanks.
From everything I have heard and read from the Coaches, Jordan Hall will start at RB while Carlos Hyde is suspended.
Seems to me Coach Meyers proclamation after the spring game Chris Fields would start as the third WR was premature. Now it looks like it will be Even Spencer, just like last year.
"The Galloping Greek"...Like it.
A question: You stated in the article that Mike Mitchell and Cam Williams have locked down spots in the 2-deep. What positions? Because I thought both were at the Mike right now and with Curtis Grant the starter which one has moved Mitchell or Williams? 
Coach Coombs said yesterday that Armani Reeves will start the opener at the field corner while Doran Grant will start at the boundery corner. He also said Vonn Bell is now pushing Tyvis Powell for the starting Star.
Again thanks for the write up.

2014 Undisputed National Champions!

unholy bucknut's picture

We have enough depth to get the job done this year I have the faith. You never know about that kid on the bench until he gets his shot..

pjtobin's picture

I think by the Cal game we are ready. Most of our backups are studs. I know that some are young. But age is just a number, right? No problems at any spot. Life is beautiful when I'm wearing my scarlet and gray glasses. 

Bury me in my away jersey, with my buckeye blanket. A diehard who died young. Rip dad. 

Baroclinicity's picture

Somewhere along the line I missed JT Moore switching to TE.  When did that happen?

When you're holding a hammer, everything looks like a nail.